Way back at the end of WWII, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life was born. At the time, this revolutionary mandate called Kaizen found life in the business world and has been deeply connected to the success of several major Japanese businesses during the country’s post-war recovery: international car maker Toyota was one these. Since then, Kaizen has found life in businesses around the world.

From manufacturing and management, through to administration and marketing, Kaizen presents a simple yet powerful framework (AKA Continuous Improvement Process) from which we can all benefit, especially marketers.

Here’s the cycle of Kaizen simplified:

  • Standardise an operation
  • Measure the standardised operation
  • Gauge measurements against requirements
  • Innovate to meet requirements and increase productivity
  • Standardise the new, improved operation, and
  • Continue cycle ad infinitum.

Kaizen is a daily activity. It eliminates unnecessary hard work and goes beyond productivity improvement to create healthy, successful workplaces.

You can probably guess where I’m going with this. The Kaizen philosophy of ‘continuous improvement’ can and should be applied to every business, especially when it comes to driving sales and marketing in the digital age.

Let’s look at the first step of Kaizen and how it applies to our marketing efforts:

Standardise an operation

The visitor flow through your website, such as the pages looked at and the way people interact with the site, can be standardised. You may need to segment your market and drive different segments to different parts of the site, but the overall approach to standardise the operation is essential. For example, every email marketing campaign can be standardised so that the flow of communication is as such: prospect/customer receives email -> they click through to landing page -> then to product page -> and finally, they pick up the phone or email your company… ad infinitum.

Measure the standardised operation

Once these processes are standardised you can automate marketing processes and trigger points, and measure your tactics much more easily. With customer and prospect communication mapped out, you can clearly see which tactics are pushing people in the wrong direction, which ones are not pushing them far enough and which ones are following the standardised process perfectly. Which leads us to the next stage of the Kaizen-influenced marketing and sales cycle…

Gauge measurements against requirements

This step is a critical part of the equation and begs these questions: Does the process meet my marketing goal? Are my website visitors converting at the right rate? How do I compare with my peers? Every team has (or should have) conversion goals, whether they be monthly, quarterly or weekly targets and if you’re measuring your processes and marketing operations closely enough you’ll know whether you’re achieving them. In taking a Kaizen approach to the cycle, you’ll quickly see if and when you need to take action and how desperately you need to make changes.

Innovate to meet requirements and increase productivity

All the parts of the Kaizen approach up to this point sound pretty dry – feeling almost mechanical or engineering – but this step is where the professional marketer comes in to play. While the previous steps give you highly valuable information and data, it takes the creative marketer with great insight into the marketing challenge to then develop an innovative solution to boost results. And this is where the marketer earns his or her money.

Standardise the new, improved operations

Here comes the easy part! Now that you’ve found a great new way to improve your marketing program it’s important to standardise it so that it’s replicable. And finally… 

Continue cycle… ad infinitum

This is where I came up with the word relentless for my blog title. At this final step, you go back to the beginning of the cycle and see what has changed. You stretch your goals and identify ways to generate even better outcomes – over and over… relentlessly.

Remember, it’s critical to think of this as a cycle of continuous improvement. It is not a path to success – there is no such thing as a path to success in online marketing; the market environment changes so quickly that we must continually change and adapt to the new conditions. That’s why it is so much fun!